BY MARK DOIG
Welling United were knocked out of the FA Trophy at Hungerford Town in wretched weather conditions on Saturday.
For most of the game, a neutral would not have known which team was in the National League South play-off zone and which had the priority of staying in the league.
After Aaron Barnes had tested Luke Cairney in the Hungerford goal, Chris Flood blasted wide of the near post for the hosts. He then missed a glorious chance when the flag stayed down but found Jack Sims too good as he tried to round him.
Che Krabbendam missed two opportunities for Welling, first when his volley missed the near post and then blasting over when it sat up nicely for him after Barnes’ cross had not been cleared properly.
Jake Evans tried his luck either side of Bradley Stevenson having a header saved but his first one was gathered by Sims and the second flew well over.
As the game moved into first-half stoppage time, Welling went ahead. Krabbendam slung in a near-post corner, Cairney struggled to clear and Ade Shokunbi did the rest from close range. Hungerford levelled immediately. Ryan Seager had a shot saved by Sims but it fell to Flood. His effort was cleared off the line back into the path of Seager and this time he gave Sims no chance.
Having to play up the slope and into the bitterly cold wind, few would have given Welling much hope after the break but they dominated the early proceedings of the second half and Joe Muscatt shot just wide before Welling went ahead.
Muscatt’s inch-perfect through ball sent half-time substitute Mason Saunders-Henry clear and he placed his shot beyond Cairney and into the net.
Hungerford were gifted a chance to level with a very soft penalty. Seager stepped up but Sims read his intentions and pushed it out. Seager followed up but Sims was up quickly and blocked his second effort.
Cairney saved Hungerford with a flying tip over from Muscatt’s long-range shot that would probably have put the game to bed but with 10 minutes remaining, Hungerford levelled when it fell kindly for George Smith to fire home.
Five minutes later, the Crusaders won it in fortunate style when Rhys Tyler’s hopeful cross from the right caught in the wind and flew into the top corner.
Despite only leading for five minutes in the entire match, it was the most important five minutes and it was Hungerford whose name was in the hat for the draw for the next round.
PICTURES: DAVE BUDDEN
Main pic: George Smith (17) levels the scores
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.